Monday, December 29, 2008

Why I Can't (Online) Date

...And it might not be why you think.

So, Katie's A Year of Online Dating has gotten me thinking about-- you guessed it--online dating. Nearly every single person I know seems to do it, and I've tried it as well. While I know people who have met their current partners in the "real world", I can only think of one person (who I don't know very well) that casually dates different people in the "real world". Online dating is the rare topic that is both fun and somewhat profound. Since online dating, unlike "traditional" dating, is still at a point where it can change drastically, and since we love talking about new ways of doing these sorts of things in the ace community, it's definitely a relevant point of discussion.

I recently wrote an article for AVEN (I'll share it with you later) about how I used to blame unrelated things on my asexuality. And I realized that the reason why dating (especially online) is so difficult for me involves many other factors besides my rare orientation. So here they are: Some reasons why I have a bugger of a time doing online dating. I hope you'll find them amusing. I find it funny because I was told by my friends that because they thought I was a good writer, online dating would somehow be my "thing". Ahem, not really.
  1. I'm not photogenic. On a dating site, your photo is usually the first thing seen by the other person. But I haven't looked good in a photo since I was about six years old. One of my friends commented on a picture of me being "classic Ily", and my expression was "You're not seriously trying to take my picture, are you? Silly human." Usually, I just look stoned (I'm not).
  2. I can't sell myself. This is why I also have such a hard time getting a job. But I can't even describe myself in a way that makes sense. This is why my "About Me" section on my Facebook profile has been "I'm not an enigma, just a contradiction" since time immemorial. And I didn't even make it up, it's a quote from Croupier. I do agree with High Fidelity that "You are what you like, not what you're like" (read that statement carefully). But, just listing what I like might be a little too avante garde for most.
  3. I don't have a "scene" that is one of the "biggies" in San Francisco. A lot of people here can be categorized as geeks, hipsters, yuppies, people who go to Burning Man, etc. When you read someone's online dating profile, you're trying to figure out where they fit. But what if you, like me, don't fit into any certain group? I think that makes dating in general more difficult. If you asked me what my "type" was, I'd say "People with red hair who ride bikes in 3-piece suits". Yeah. Really not helpful.
(Also, check out Quench's awesomely accurate post on the trials of online dating while genderqueer. Online dating is supposed to give us more choices, but does having to select your gender and orientation from a drop-down box reinforce "the binary" more than traditional dating?)

So, a mere three things are big roadblocks for me in the online dating world. And is this where the future of dating is going? Don't get me wrong, I still like to meet people online, or wherever I may find them. But I doubt online dating is going to become "my thing" anytime least, beyond the theoretical.

So, have you noticed any other bugs in the online dating method?


Katie said...

Thanks for the link!

I found this quite interesting and it has prompted me to write that much-promised "lessons" post. Check for it soon!

Noskcaj Llahsram said...

I know where you're coming from. Those are they three reasons I give when people tell me I should try online dating. I haven't ever used a real picture of myself on facebook, only character portraits, xkcd comics and book covers.
You should have seen me at my last job interview, when asked why I should get the job all I could come up with was "uh, I'm punctual, competent".
And everyone up here fits into one of the main "types", skater, hockey player/puck bunny, rocker, gamer, or drunk/partier; with the exception of gamer (and though I will never stop loving videogames, I don't particularly care for direction my favourite genres are moving in)I don't fit in to any of the 'types', so I've had to make my own. Right know it's sort of Rat Pack, mixed Pushing Daises; and a little Blackhat(xkcd character)and suede head thrown in for flavour.
If you don't fit a mold; make you you're own.

Ily said...

Yay, glad you liked it, Katie.
Hee, NL, I'm very punctual too! Playing into that for me is the fact that I'm not competitive at all. Is dating competitive? Hmm...

Anonymous said...

I can't do the online dating thing because it doesn't make sense to me to meet a total stranger in a context that forces both people to immediately decide whether they are romantically interested in each other. Since I see relationships as being about closeness rather than attraction, if the other person immediately expresses attraction to me, I will get uncomfortable even if we have everything in common and I would like to get to know them better. The context inevitably ruins what might have been a good relationship if we had met in person with no pressure.

Ily said...

That's a really good point, EoE. And it's something I know from experience, too. I guess people make that decision on "real life" dates too, but there's usually the assumption that the people met before and felt some attraction at some point before the date. I'm not totally sure how mutual attraction works, but I do know that it's supposed to happen really fast in online dating. Which may or may not be realistic.

Sparky said...

EoE, wow, thank you for saying that! I feel the same way but have never been able to put it into words so clearly.